Pimlico Race Course begins its summer meeting today with a gathering of good sprinters. Northern Wolf, who devoured a track record in his last outing, goes after his third straight victory, running in the Groovy Handicap as the 32-day session unfolds at 1 p.m.
The meeting at Old Hilltop, which will conclude Sept. 18, will not be without interruption, Timonium taking its customary 10 racing days during the state fair, Aug. 25-Sept. 3. Before and after, Pimlico will feature two major events: the first Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash on Aug. 18 and Maryland Million Day on Sept. 9.
The nationally televised De Francis Dash will be Pimlico's richest race of the meet at $350,000, and it could bring together Safely Kept, the 1989 sprint champion, Housebuster and Beau Genius, among others. The fifth Maryland Million will offer the biggest purse distribution on one program, nine races bringing $1 million.
The Twixt Stakes and Polynesian Handicap, both $100,000 races, also are scheduled.
Today's six-furlong Groovy Handicap has attracted a familiar lineup of proven sprinters, Northern Wolf reacquainting himself with such established out-of-towners as Kechi, Born To Shop and Cook's Brown Rice. Maryland-based hopefuls include Amerrico's Bullet, Le Machou and Jeweler's Choice.
Northern Wolf hasn't raced since he won Laurel's Duck Dance Handicap in a record 1:08 1/5 for six furlongs, but the grayish colt shows no signs of wear. After two sparkling workouts at Bowie in early July, he took his final step toward the Groovy by working three furlongs in a brisk 34 1/5 on Monday.